To the Woman Sitting Next to Us at Tufano’s Vernon Park Tap on Sunday Afternoon

I don’t know you, but was seated next to you yesterday afternoon at Trufano’s Vernon Park Tap — a Chicago institution.  We arrived at 5:30.  I saw you walk in just before us and thought to myself — “She’s cute — looks like a nice gal.”  I honestly had that thought.  Pffft.

It was not crowded, but getting there.  We had timed it right.  After a wait of just a few minutes we got seated.  There were four of us — my husband, my five year old boy, myself, and our sleeping baby.  We were coming off a late afternoon visit to the zoo and in a grand frame of mind. The sun was shining in Chicago, the snow melting, and today’s forecast started with the number 5.  Woot Woot!

I was in a great mood.

As the hostess showed us to our table, I thought again, “There’s that cute gal,” as it was clear we would be sitting right next to you, but then I saw you roll your eyes, nudge your man’s elbow across the table, and say, “LOOK,” before nodding your head in our direction.  Yes, I have eyes and I saw you.  My initial thought was FU, cause we teach our kiddos how to behave in restaurants and I didn’t like the assumptions you were making.

You see, dear lady, I am a mom blogger.  I spend lots of time on this here Internet in the mom world.  I’ve read stories like this one before where rude strangers pop off at parents in places like airplanes and restaurants. I know it’s a thing on the Internet — just another way for people to bitch and moan and complain about folks different than themselves, so I’ve never really engaged this topic on my blog.  I find it boring.

But there you were, in all your Lululemon glory, eating dinner with your husband or brother or cousin or boyfriend at a two top.  And there we were, your family from hell, apparently, seated right next to you at the four top.  Oddly, we were probably a lot like you — trying to grab an early dinner at a beloved neighborhood joint before going home and calling it a weekend.

It’s a really, really odd and unnerving feeling to know that your mere presence, or, let’s be honest, the presence of your children, causes a stranger annoyance and distress.  Enough annoyance and distress that it’s visible and not hidden from you.  I whispered to my husband, “Oops, looks like we annoyed the couple there,” posted a quick update on the FB, too, as I felt like I was caught in an Internet phenomenon and where better to address that than the Internet?

Here is the happily sleeping baby that was so annoying to the couple behind him.
Here is the happily sleeping baby that was so annoying to the couple behind him.

Then, I moved on.  Took the movie’s advice and “Let it Go.”

We ordered our food, kept our five year old occupied, as he was hungry and, yes, a little cranky.  The drinks and salads arrived.  Trufano’s is old school, so we treated our son to a kiddie cocktail and split our iceberg lettuce salad three ways.  Our boy went back and forth two or three times between his seat and my lap.  He was occupied, though, and not loud or bothersome.  These days, knowing that his time on my lap will be over soon enough, I enjoy those moments.  He knew that when the food arrived his place was back at his own seat.

The baby kept sleeping.

You snickered when I took a photo of my son’s kiddie cocktail.  Yep, I saw and heard that, too.  Whatever, I thought.  Kiddie cocktails are awesome and bubbly and I had just deleted like 200 photos from my phone that afternoon, so was feeling antsy to be able to use the camera again with the extra storage freed up.

I mean, COME ON -- just look at that bubbly goodness!
I mean, COME ON — just look at that bubbly goodness!

Like my son, I was hungry and really looking forward to eating.  Again — this meal felt celebratory.  Life is good right now and I don’t take that for granted.  It felt really, really nice to sit in a restaurant surrounded by my three boys.  This meal out was unexpected, but really appreciated. Trufano’s is such a joint, full of atmosphere and families and hustle and bustle, that it was just great to be out after the longest of winters.

Our food arrived with cheers from my son.  Hooray! I snapped another photo, because my plate looked awesome and I wanted to save the moment and yes, it’s a thing now for folks to snap photos of food before they eat it.  That annoyed you, too, and merited more eye rolls, another nudge to your partner, and the head nod accompanied by the mouthed, “Oh God.”

Wow.  Did it bother you, I wondered, that I took a photo of my food? Wow — really?  I marveled at how problem free your life must be if a stranger seated at the next table pushing a button on her phone caused you such distress.

You were ticking me off and it was harder to ignore you at this point.

Not a moment later, our baby let out a squawk.  Yes, a loud squawk.  He woke up in an unfamiliar place and squawked.  Six month old babies do that.  As I picked him up, I heard your loud, “OH GOD,” with more eye rolling and elbow nudging of your dinner mate.  That sort of did it for me.  I looked at you and said, “Don’t worry, it’s going to be okay.” I think my meaning was totally lost on you.  You smiled back at me warmly like I was an idiot and you had no idea why I was addressing you.

I was addressing you, dear lady, because you were rude and judgemental throughout our thirty minutes of sitting four feet away from you and I had had just about enough.  When a baby cries and before his mama can even pick him up to walk away you loudly proclaim, “OH GOD,” well, gal, you got some issues.

Trufano’s is a family joint.  This is no Alinea.  This is a family run business in a residential neighborhood.  There were no less than six babies in car seats that I saw, at least a dozen toddlers through tweens.  Much of the menu is offered family style and it was 5:30 on a Sunday afternoon. Sheesh.  If a family with a baby is not able to eat at that kind of restaurant at that time of day, well, then, banish us all for the 18 years until our kids are raised and out of the house.

You might like that.

I left the table with my baby because I didn’t want to disturb those around me.  When you go out to eat at a restaurant, as I always tell my son, no one wants to hear crying and misbehaving.  Restaurants are special, because you are eating in community with others.  That means if our kids are causing a disturbance, we act as responsible parents and leave the room, so as not to disturb.  That’s just what we do.  That means, also, that you don’t obviously communicate to the family sitting next to you that you find their mere presence a nuisance.  I wish it were as easy to teach you as it is my son about those important lessons in civility and community.

In the end, I didn’t come back to the table.  I really didn’t want to see you again.  I will enjoy the food for lunch today.  Baby and I were happily welcomed at an empty spot at the bar in the next room  and folks around us actually enjoyed him and oohed and aahed over him, asking after his name and pinching his formidable cheeks.  You know, like most folks respond to a baby in a family restaurant.

I think what annoys me most about this photo is that it sucks -- I would have taken a better one, but after hearing the "Oh God," comment from the gal four feet away, I put the phone down.
The offending food photo.  It will make a good lunch today!

I don’t know your story and after I hit publish on this post, I’ll forget about you, dear lady.  But honestly?  I feel badly for you.  You must be sad and that must suck.  Here’s to a brighter future for you, full of quiet and solitude.  Oh, and my guess is that whole yoga thing is not working for you, so it’s sort of pointless to invest in the Lululemon gear.

Namaste, dear lady.  Namaste.

Do you want to sit next to me at a restaurant?  Pffft.  How ’bout just subscribe to my blog.  Here’s how:

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